Once the stricter Stop Soros law has been passed, the organisation of illegal immigration will be written into the criminal code, head of the prime minister’s office Gergely Gulyás said on Thursday.
Organising illegal migration to be punished under criminal code
The amendments of the constitution related to the Stop Soros law as well as the bill itself are scheduled to be submitted to parliament next week, he noted a weekly press briefing. The government received authorisation from voters in the recent general election to protect Hungary from immigration and the people who organise it, he added.
The bill includes amendments to the police act, the penal code, the asylum code, the law on the state border and the law on administrative offences, Gulyás said. The fundamental law will be amended to include a passage on the borders stating that Hungary will only provide asylum if it is the first safe country of arrival, he added.
The “Stop Soros” package of bills, which aims to curb activities of pro-migration NGOs in Hungary, was submitted to parliament ahead of the April 8 election.
The government has since decided to make it more draconian.
Commenting on the opinion of the Venice Commission, he said Balázs Orbán, parliamentary state secretary of the prime minister’s office, is scheduled to meet members of the commission during their current visit to Budapest.
Concerning a fee planned under the original bill to be paid by organisations that support illegal immigration, Gulyás said that
once the bill is tightened, organising and financing illegal immigration will be punishable under the criminal code, so a fee would no longer be at issue.
On the issue of asylum, he said the justice ministry had made plain that Hungary applicants will have to show that they are under direct risk of persecution. This means they must prove that Hungary is the only safe country on their journey. He noted that there is a dispute with the EU on this issue, which, he said, sees asylum as a universal right.
Everyone will be given a chance to prove that they have applied for asylum in the countries they have passed through, he said. But they will have to be able to demonstrate that they were rejected unfairly or were subject to persecution there, too. As far as Serbia is concerned, the government regards European Union candidate countries as safe as member states, Gulyás added.
Meanwhile, he said that the constitutional amendment will also include a passage that allows the establishment of a public administrative court. The idea is to create a new high court that offers a remedial forum at the same level as the Kuria, Hungary’s supreme court, he said, insisting that the measure would not affect the broader judicial system.
The court, an independent public administration body, falls within the bounds of normal European practice as well as Hungary’s own legal traditions, he said.
“We’ll be keeping track of what is happening in the National Judicial Council at a distance.” he replied to a question concerning any future changes to the judicial system as a whole. He said the government had not discussed the issue and it was not on the agenda either.
A further change to the constitution will aim to ensure that the household is inviolable. Everyone’s private home will enjoy constitutional protection,” he said without elaborating. The government will consult with the opposition parties over the constitutional change, he said.
On defence developments, the minister said the army budget would rise by 0.1 percent each year, so by 2026 it will reach the 2 percent of the GDP level required by NATO.
Next year, the defence budget will be 80 billion forints bigger, allowing for serious military developments, he added.
On the topic of the Central European University, he noted that an agreement between the government and the CEU must be concluded by Dec. 31 before ratification by parliament.
Commenting on a recent controversy regarding political statements critical of the Constitutional Court for its ruling on the question of the legitimacy of ballots posted without an official envelope, Gulyás said expressing the expectations of society should not be forbidden simply because those convictions are made in a political context. He added that judges, too, have their say on court-related matters.
Asked about a campaign by NGO Human Rights Watch to get the ruling Fidesz party thrown out of the European People’s Party, he said
the NGO was financed to a large degree by George Soros and it was therefore no surprise that the government’s migration policy did not meet with its approval.
He added that Fidesz was the EPP’s most successful member.
Government to submit 2019 draft budget on June 13
The government plans to submit the 2019 draft budget to parliament on June 13, which is expected to pass it by the end of July, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office told.
The government plans to continue cutting taxes next year, Gulyás said. The government will cut the social contribution tax by 2 percent and tax breaks for families raising two children will increase further, he said.
Next year’s budget aims to keep the budget deficit under 2 percent of GDP and growth above 4 percent,
The government also aims to achieve full employment, Gulyás said. There were 4.4 million employed by the start of 2018, he noted. The number of workers in fostered job schemes dropped by 42,000 in the first quarter of 2018 from the year before since many have found jobs on the primary labour market, he said.
Economic growth reached 4.4 percent in 2017, driven mostly by growth in the services sector, he said. Hungary’s growth rate was the third largest in the EU, he said.
Commenting on the recommendations by the European Commission issued on Hungary’s infringement on the medium-term deficit target, Gulyás said “had we heeded the EC’s recommendations in 2010, the country wouldn’t be where it is today.” The government will read the reports and “be grateful for the advice”, he said.
Commenting on the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which is to come into effect on Friday, Gulyás said
the government would only issue warnings rather than sanctions to SMEs in violation of it.
Every effort will be made to ensure the GDPR does not hinder their operations or impose huge costs on them, he said. Hungary intends to follow the Austrian example, namely that the data protection authority (NAIH) will be limited to warning SMEs if they are in breach of the regulation, Gulyás said. He added that the introduction of stricter rules for large data managers, such as Facebook, would be all the more justified. He called on NAIH head Attila Peterfalvi to make all necessary information available to SMEs.
Commenting on a Budapest conference in which Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, also held a speech, Gulyás said that it was unlikely their paths would cross again as they “work in different sectors of politics”. Although it is still too early to assess the Trump presidency, Gulyás said that it was thanks to him that Hillary Clinton was not president. “If he’s done that, then he’s done a lot already,” Gulyás said, adding that Bannon had played a part in this.
Gulyás said the government will move out of Parliament within a year.
SMEs violating EU data protection regulation to receive warning
The government will only warn the small- and medium-sized companies that violate the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Gergely Gulyás told.
It will make every possible effort so that the GDPR should not hinder the operation of SMEs or impose huge costs on them, he said.
Hungary would follow the Austrian example by codifying that its data protection authority NAIH can only warn the SMEs in question rather than apply any other sanction,
He added, however, that introducing stricter rules for large data managers including Facebook would be all the more justified.
Photo: Gergely Botár/kormany.hu